Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tories, NDP Say Ontario Liberals Had No Emergency Plan to Deal with Ice Storm

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tories, NDP Say Ontario Liberals Had No Emergency Plan to Deal with Ice Storm

Article excerpt

PCs, NDP say Liberals had no emergency plan

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TORONTO - Ontario's Liberal government should have been better prepared to assist people after the pre-Christmas ice storm that knocked out power to 600,000 homes and businesses across the province, the opposition parties said Tuesday.

The Progressive Conservatives and NDP said instead of having an emergency plan in place, the Liberals were forced to scramble and came up the idea to give out free grocery gift cards, which the opposition parties called a publicity stunt gone wrong.

"They did this on the back of an envelope," said NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns.

"They didn't take the steps necessary to stop blackouts and outages from happening in the first place, and didn't take the steps necessary to make sure that we could recover much more quickly than we did."

The grocery cash cards, $50 for individuals and $100 for families, were intended to help replace food that spoiled in freezers and refrigerators after the electricity stayed off for days, and were supposed to be only for those that needed the financial help.

About $840,000 worth of cash cards were given out in Toronto last week, but many people came away empty handed and angry after facing long lines and a shortage of the actual cards. Other municipalities affected by the ice storm started distributing another $450,000 worth of the cash cards on Tuesday, including Hamilton and the regions of Peel, Halton, Waterloo and York, as well as Dufferin county.

"This was an abuse of tax dollars and an abuse of corporate generosity rather than a good idea because political interference and political opportunism got in the way," said PC energy critic Lisa MacLeod.

"If I were to go anywhere in Ontario today people would be talking about this issue, not just in Toronto but everywhere, because they view it for it was, a PR stunt that's gone bad. …

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